October 21, 2014

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Lorain drug suspect arrested again, this time on weapons charge

LORAIN — A Lorain man arrested during a drug raid that also netted cash and 40 guns was arrested again Tuesday on a federal weapons charge.

Romero

Lorain police Sgt. Tom Nimon said 32-year-old Jose Romero, who had been free on bond, was picked up without incident at 1848 E. 31st St.

Police raided two South Lorain homes, including that of Romero’s grandmother in late February, seizing 40 firearms, including handguns, machine pistols and assault rifles, 20 grams of cocaine, 591 grams of marijuana, 75 grams of heroin and $5,200 in cash.

The investigation that led to the raids began after Francisco Rivera of Lorain was found with $183,000 in cash during a January traffic stop in Tennessee, police have said. That much cash raised suspicion and authorities there contacted Lorain police, who launched an investigation.

Romero was stopped about three weeks later, and Tennessee authorities reported finding him with $210,000.

The raids led to the arrests of Romero, Luis Acevedo Jr. and Kevin Thorpe, who police suspect were responsible for the majority of heroin trafficking in Lorain County. All three men are waiting for their drug cases to be presented to a county grand jury.

The federal indictment, however, centers on the weapons found during the raids.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent James Goodwin, Lorain police learned that Romero was a “significant heroin and cocaine trafficker” after a confidential informant tipped off officers in August.

Over the next few months, police used the informant to make six controlled heroin and cocaine buys from Romero, Goodwin wrote. A second confidential informant was added to the investigation in January.

That informant informed police that “Romero was interested in purchasing large numbers of firearms in an effort to influence their availability in Lorain,” the affidavit said.

The informant also said Romero stored many of the guns in a safe at his grandmother’s Charleston Avenue house.

Romero, his girlfriend and five young children were at the East 31st Street home during the Feb. 26 raid in which police found loaded guns on the floor, in a dresser and in a closet, Goodwin wrote. At the Charleston Avenue home, officers found six guns stacked on top of a locked gun safe and another 28 guns inside the safe once they got it open.

Nimon said Romero is now in federal custody.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.